One of the oldest of USF’s living learning communities, the Erasmus Living Learning Community has its own unique spin. Participants have the option to live together on USF’s campus and all travel together to another country as a part of their curriculum. Erasmus was cancelled for the 2017-2018 academic year due to low enrollment, but this year, the program is getting a revamp: New co-directors, politics professor Keally D. McBride and performing arts professor Peter Novak, as well as a new immersion trip to Northern Ireland.
Named after the Dutch humanist, teacher and social critic, Erasmus of Rotterdam, Erasmus is a space for enlightenment and all forms of communication and critical thinking. Erasmus is a year-long program that fulfills Core D (ethics) and Service Learning requirements. This year, the course is open for seniors and transfer students for the first time and may fulfill credits for international studies and politics majors, according to McBride. Next year’s destination is Belfast and Derry, Northern Ireland. Students participating in this event are offered housing in Toler Hall, however, on-campus housing is not mandatory.
Erasmus’ syllabus has a different focus each year, which is chosen by the co-directors. While the 2015-2016 focus was environmental flows, collective displacements and social movements for change, the next year’s focus is conflict and reconciliation. “In the U.S., we don’t have a culture of reconciliation. There is no space for moving beyond conflict,” McBride explained. “When I was a kid growing up, there were reports on how many people died every single night in Belfast, because of the troubles. They’ve signed a peace agreement in 1998 and are working for reconciliation, hence why Belfast is ideal for our immersion trip this year.”
“The students get social learning from actors there; they meet with student activists to see what students over there are fired up about,” former co-director Professor Michael Rozendal said. This year’s co-director, Novak, is bringing a new element to Erasmus: performing arts and social justice. “Theater is an incredible tool for emotional catharsis,” McBride said. “That’s why I was very excited to work with Professor Novak. We will be meeting groups who came together [in Belfast] and are reenacting these events. Theater is powerful in bringing people from both sides of conflict together and is a wonderful space to work through traumas.”
“It was interesting to work with students with the same passion for social justice,” former Erasmus student Darlene Martinez said. “It was interesting taking what we learned in class and actually confronting what happened.” Martinez said the class built strong relationships during its time together. “I remember going for dinners with the students in this program, and I still have a very close relationship with Professor Rozendal,” she said. McBride said students from the program five years ago stay at her house when they’re visiting San Francisco, as well.